Red Lion Grog House
1043 Virginia Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46203
The Red Lion Grog House offers deliciously prepared fresh food with a touch of sophistication. The boy and I were hungry and decided to head up the road to Fountain Square, a funky Indianapolis neighborhood known for it's local artists, restaurants, duck pin bowling, and entertainment. Because I love English food and have been wanting to try this place since it opened a little over a year ago, we parked down the street and walked over to the bustling restaurant. It was loud in there and it was a full house! We were told there would be a 45 minute wait, but we were welcome to go to the bar and he'd come get us when our table was available.
I was pleased when we got to the bar to find that there were beers from Indiana breweries as well as several other craft beers. Of course, they had your usual suspects as well and they do have a gluten-free offering. The boy and I both ordered Sun King Wee Mac and took in our surroundings.
Besides being loud and crowded (which is what we expected from this place at 7:30 on a Friday night), it is very dark in there. They have low lighting and the decor is mostly black. There is seating in the front by the window and tables that line the wall leading to the back. The bar is on the other wall in the back of the restaurant. It's a tight fit, but we didn't find it uncomfortable at all. The atmosphere was fun.
Our table opened up sooner than expected and the host came running back to the bar to let us know. I was impressed that he remembered our faces and it's always nice when you don't have to listen for someone to yell your name over the restaurant noise. I swear I miss more tables because I stop paying attention. We paid our bar tab and sat down at our table.
Our server was over promptly to greet us and give us the run-down of the menu. The soup of the day was New England clam chowder. Being a native New Englander, I asked her how it was. The boy then went ahead to say, "she's a seafood snob." He's right. I am. We were in luck, though. Her husband, the chef, makes it from scratch. I ordered a cup and the fish and chips. I hadn't had any seafood since my last vacation to Cape Cod a few months ago, so I was dying for it. The boy followed my lead and got fish and chips as well. She also recommended the curry dip for the chips, so I ordered mine mild. I'm kind of a wimp.
The chowder reminded me of home. Succulent clams in a thick creamy base with chunks of potatoes. It was very hardy and seasoned perfectly. The entrees came out a few minutes later. They hand-dip Atlantic Cod in a delicious homemade batter and fry it. The fish is flaky and tastes very fresh. Not something I'm used to in Indiana. It wasn't overly fishy, either. Good fish doesn't taste fishy. I promise. And the curry dip was oh-so-good. The mild is actually very mild and next time I'll get the spicier one.
I didn't have room for dessert, but when our server suggested the bread pudding, I had to take some home with me. It was also delicious, but would have been better if I had eaten it at the restaurant. It's served warm with a drizzle of chocolate. It's good, firm bread pudding, too. A very large portion that should probably be shared.
When it was all said and done, we spent just under $35 for the meal, excluding the beer. I would have gladly paid more than that. Nothing on the menu is over $13, so this makes for a fun and inexpensive date.
The Verdict: I had to text my mom from the car to tell her that I found good affordable seafood and clam chowder that was to die for. The service was top-notch and we can't wait to go back. We'll just make sure we aren't as hungry next time because there will be a wait.